Women 2.0 profiles women angel investors in our weekly "This Is What An Angel Investor Looks Like" series.
By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)
Meet the author of “The Women of Berkshire Hathaway” (which profiles the six past and current female CEOs that manage subsidiary companies of Berkshire Hathaway, and the two female members of its Board of Directors), Karen Linder is a Nebraska-based angel investor and Berkshire Hathaway shareholder.
Before becoming an investor, she had a 30-year career as a cytotechnologist studying cells and has written numerous medical scientific journal articles and books.
Meet Angel Investor Karen Linder
How and why did you decide to become an angel investor? "I joined the Nebraska Angels shortly after my husband started attending the group meetings. He would come home telling me about the pitches and I was really intrigued. Now, it's an activity that we enjoy doing together."
What investments have you made?
Company: CytoPherx Founder(s): David Humes
Company: EyeVerify Founder(s): Toby Rush
Company: Leap2 Founder(s): Dan Carroll, Mike Farmer
Company: MRail Founder(s): Shane Farritor
Company: Nitride Solutions Founder(s): Jeremy Jones
Company: SkyVu Entertainment Founder(s): Benjamin Vu, Hoa Vu
Company: Snapstone® Floating Porcelain Tile Founder(s): Jonathan McIntosh
Range of initial investments? "$25k-$300k"
What types of industries do you invest in? "I am open to investing in startups in any industry. I don't need to completely understand the industry myself, if I can find other experts to help evaluate a company and if I trust that the founders are competent. I look for a strong team, innovative product and a strong market potential in all industries."
How has your background played (or not) a role in your angel investing? "I am an entrepreneur myself, and my background is medical. Biomed and other scientific startups don't intimidate me, but it doesn't really play a role in the specific industries of recent innovative products and services. My background as a business owner plays a larger role in evaluating potential businesses."
One piece of advice to an angel-in-training? "If you wait for the 'sure thing deal' to come around, you will never make any angel investments."
One piece of advice to entrepreneurs looking for capital? "In the pitch, spend more time talking about your business model and financial reasons this is an investable deal, than describing the details of your product's technology. And only take funding if it allows you do something quicker or better that you would otherwise not be able to do."
What is your investment style? "Depending upon the industry, I enjoy advising and guiding the companies I invest in. The degree of my involvemtn varies. I do not have any input in some of the companies and with others, I have weekly conversations. I have enjoyed serving on the board of two of my investments."
What are some investment dealbreakers? "A large part of my decision to invest is made in the founder(s). Aside from their business, I have to actually like the founders as people. Our relationship will continue after they are funded and I have to be able to communicate with them and enjoy spending time in the same room. If I have a poor first impression of a founder's character, it won't matter how attractive the deal is. That is a deal breaker."
Favorite quote? "Even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then."
Random fact? "I wrote a book, 'The Women of Berkshire Hathaway', released in May 2012."
She gave a TEDxOmaha talk (below) about her recipe for fostering women's participation in startups - creating more "ladies who launch" companies and get venture-funded. Follow her on Twitter at @Kalinder.
Women 2.0 readers: Know more women angel investors investing in the "Silicon Prairie" and beyond? Let us know in the comments!
Angie Chang is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Women 2.0, a media company offering content, community and conferences for aspiring and current women innovators in technology. Our mission is to increase the number of female founders of technology startups with inspiration, information and education through our platform. Previously, Angie held roles in product management and web UI design. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.